“The House Bunny,” directed by Fred Wolf and starring Anna Faris, isn’t much of a movie. It’s funny and sweet with a thoroughly predictable ending, but despite its somewhat lackluster premise, it’s got two things going for it: Faris and the women.
Faris just shines in her role as Shelley, a Playboy bunny who’s kicked out of the mansion on the morning of her 27th birthday for being too old. Suddenly homeless, and completely unable to function like a grown-up, she ends up at Zeta House, a sorority run by college campus misfits who are on the verge of losing their house.
Shelley moves in, teaches the girls how to pretty themselves up, throws some killer parties, etc. All looks well for the Zeta House, until…well, I’ll just leave that part a mystery.
Faris completely sells this woman, who, while a bit dim, has a big heart and just wants to help people anyway she can. She’s a dumb blonde for sure, but I came away thinking that she’s only dumb because no one ever told her she could be smart and a total looker. You want her to succeed because what she wants more than anything is for her housemates to succeed.
Here’s where the other awesome part comes in; the woman of Zeta are what I wish a lot of young woman in movies and TV shows could be. Yes, they’re geeky, and awkward, and lack confidence, but Shelley teaches them the ultimate confidence trick: act like you have skills and people will see that shining through. In turn, when Shelley wants to date a ‘real’ guy rather than a meathead, her sisters teach her how to be more than just a pretty face.
It’s a welcome change; a lot of times (“Heavenly Creatures” or “My Summer of Love” are good examples) I’ll see female friendships in movies that always have this sinister undercurrent, subtly letting the audience know that it’s not safe for woman to be left alone with each other. Those movies can still be great, but it’s nice to get a vacation from mean-girl backbiting among woman who should be supporting each other. That element does show up, but fortunately it’s not the focus.
Again, it’s not a great movie; but it’s a step toward something winning.
“The House Bunny” (2008)
Directed by Fred Wolf
Written by Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith
Starring: Anna Faris (Shelley)